Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do Over?

I think I need a do over. I've been pouting about that crappy race all week. (No pun intended.) On Saturday after the half, I was just angry at my body. I felt like it really let me down. I put some really nasty food into it Saturday night as punishment. How did I used to regularly eat fried catfish, fried hush puppies, and all the trimmings? No wonder I was fluffy. On Sunday, I had the most decadent pizza I could find--from our local New York Pizza Depot. The little orange pepperonis dotting the top were shining with grease. And I didn't blot! Then..... and this is BIG.... I didn't do any sort of exercise whatsoever for three days. I was mad at running, mad at myself, and mad at exercise in general. I did finally stop eating bad though! Strangely what lifted me out of the funk was a really hard Crossfit workout on Wednesday morning. The endorphins I'm accustomed to were back and I felt whole and hopeful again---like my old self.

I think I have found a couple of "do over" options. I just want to prove to myself that I can still run 13 miles under a 10-minute per mile pace. I KNOW I can. I am still going to be running long with my Country Music Half Marathon training group, so in 3 weeks, on the 11-mile training run, I can just run a little faster than usual and get in 2 afterwards and see what kind of pace I can manage. The place we are running is very similar to the Tom King course. It would be awesome if it was 9:59 pace or better. If I can't manage it, I just can't manage it. Then, in May there is this new event in nearby Paducah, Kentucky. It is called the Iron Mom Half-marathon. I have wanted to do it since hearing the title and seeing the super-cool race shirt. (I'm totally doing it for the shirt.)

I'd love to get the sub 10-minute mile thing out of the way so I could just go into the Iron Mom with no expectations and actually have fun.

See, that's the biggest problem with last Saturday. That's what was missing. The fun. And if there's no fun in it, what's the frickin' point of running 13 miles??? I mean, isn't it possible to run a strong race and still have some fun in it?

It was totally my fault. Here's what should have happened when I ran in the conditions I was given:

Wake up race morning. Notice stomach is not feeling well. Adjust time goal by 10-15 seconds per mile, putting it at 9:50 pace per mile. Get to race start. Start running. Notice by mile two it's much hotter than expected. Adjust race pace by another 10-15 seconds per mile. That would put me at a 10:05 ish pace. Let go of PR expectations. Decide to just run and have fun. Don't beat myself up over the slower miles. Make friends. Smile at people. Thank the volunteers. Act silly for the cameras on the course.

I still would have had the stomach problems, but I wouldn't have let them throw me for such a loop.

You know what they say about hindsight.....

And that's why I call this (Mis)Adventures in Running, folks!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Pretty Good 10K---Unfortunately It Was a Half Marathon

Today did not go as expected, unfortunately. My half-marathon time was 2:15:43, a 10:22 pace--slower than my last two times on the course.

I can trace the first sign of an impending poor performance to my lunch on Friday--a Wendy's cheeseburger and baked potato. The potato tasted awful, and after eating them both, I started having stomach issues. This was a bad choice to start with, but my four-year-old was having a play date and I needed something quick and cheap to feed us! Still not feeling great, I then went to Olive Garden for dinner and overate--2.5 breadsticks, salad (what was I thinking?) and spaghetti with meat sauce.

Going to bed with little gas bubbles popping in my stomach, I was still stupidly optimistic about running a PR today. I got up this morning with no appetite and had a couple of bathroom issues that I will not go into detail about. I forced down breakfast, but it seemed to stick around instead of emptying out of my stomach. Right before the race, I choked down 1/2 of a Gu, and again, it seemed to just sit in a lump.

Miles one and two were right on pace at about 9:36 and 9:37 (goal was 9:30-9:45 pace) but it was HOT. It was about 60 degrees at the start. We had been training in 16-40 degrees. Heat is not my friend!

In mile 3, I took a swig of Gatorade at the water stop and it burned like acid in my stomach. For miles 3-5, I dealt with that burning sensation. I was also getting progressively slower by 1 or 2 seconds per mile. At mile 4, I was still roughly within my goal pace of sub 9:45, but it was a big stuggle to stay there. I gel'd on schedule at mile 5, but it was tough to get down. Finally in mile 6, I lost my running buddy. I was just feeling so nauseous and sick and my legs felt dead. I think that in reality, the gel was maybe sitting in my stomach and the carbs weren't getting to where I needed them---my leg muscles! From miles 6 on, I was WAY OFF pace, to the point that mile 7, I was at a 10:20 pace and all hopes of PRing went out the window. It was nearly 70 degrees at this point. Normally, that's ok running weather, but after training in COLD all winter, it did not help the way I was feeling. Around mile 8, I started looking for a Port o John or some bushes because the sensation in my stomach had dropped lower into my intestinal area. I was panicked. There wasn't anywhere to "go," but soon the immediate need passed for a little while.

At this point, I felt like I was running on fumes, no energy in my legs at all. It was difficult to run under a 10:30 pace. My last training run had been a 10:18 pace! I stayed away from the Gatorade, sticking with water the rest of the race. I tried another 1/2 gel around mile 10. I started taking 20 second walk breaks every half mile. They helped a little.

Finally, after 2 hours and 15 minutes of misery, I finished. I don't think I want to do that race again! The last time I ran this race, it poured rain and was only about 40 degrees, and THAT was better than today. I am so, so disappointed. Besides the heat and the stomach problems, I think I simply didn't do enough 5-6-7 mile mid-week runs. As much as I enjoy those speedy 2 to 3 milers, they aren't all that helpful for races over 10K. I need to be doing speedy 6 and 7 milers!

There is a half-marathon in a neat city about 2.5 hours away in 3 weeks---Lynchburg, TN, home of the Jack Daniels Whisky Distillery. I'm thinking about running that one to just try to have a better experience. It is hilly--- mile 4 to 5 is completely up hill, but maybe if I go into it with no expectations, just to enjoy the day, I will feel better.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Be Conservative or Just Go For It??

When you are racing, do you carefully formulate a race plan---knowing what pace you should be at for each mile, making sure you don't go out too hard and have plenty of energy to finish or do you just GO FOR IT and run hard, leaving nothing in the tank by the end?

I tend to err on the side of being conservative. Or maybe I don't "err" at all, I just know what I'm capable of and do it. After one ugly half marathon a couple of years ago when I went out way too fast and died a slow death in miles 8 to 13 as well as one last year, where just miles one and two were too fast and ruined the rest of the race, I tend to be a little on the careful side. And I'm a type-A planner.

I have a half marathon in one week! I suppose I'm ready. I did a 10-miler, an 11-miler and a 13.1 miler in training. My mid-week runs weren't long, but often included a speed element, so maybe quality over quantity will work for me. I think I maxed out at 20 miles per week. I'm really curious to how this low-key approach to training will work.

I *think* I can PR in this race if all goes well. It might be a small PR or it could be a big PR. It depends on how much I run the pace I know I can maintain and how much I just GO. FOR. IT. If I have a bad day and don't PR, I think I'm going to be really disappointed.

I think by mile 4 in a half marathon, you know what kind of day it is going to be---a good day or a bad day. If you run crazy in miles 1-4, you might think it is a good day, but by mile 8, you think differently.

More than anything, I'm curious and excited to how this race (my 9th half marathon in 3 years!) will go. Can I break 2:08? Can I break 2:06? Or will it be more like my average half-marathons around 2:14-2:15?

I'm struggling with a bit of a tight IT Band and lateral hamstring, but I'm seeing a chiropractor for that. This is week 3 of treatment, and I think I'm only going for 4 weeks total. I know what it really needs is rest, but I'm employed coaching a group of runners for the next 6 weeks for the Country Music Half Marathon. I guess I'll rest after our last training run on April 23! I'm not planning on actually running the race on April 30. I've never liked the course. But I say that every year and wind up running it anyway! It's tough to not be a part of such a large race only 45 minutes from my house.

But, more immediately, I think I'll enjoy the flat Tom King Classic with only about 1500 runners instead of 30,000! But I'm not running it for fun. I'm a woman on a mission! I want a half-marathon PR! Sure, I could have fun while doing it, but we all know going for a PR is fairly serious business. It is a mindset that colors the day. In some races, you are just there to be a part of the festivities or to see a new city or a beautiful park. And some races you are there to see what you are made of, to push your body to the limit, and to ask yourself, "Do I have it today?"